At The Heart Of The Matter

Almost every signal within a facility touches a router. They are the heart of a station’s infrastructure. Therefore, when choosing a new router, flexibility is key, especially as facilities convert from analog to digital and high definition. Here’s a smattering of what’s on the digital video router market these days

Almost every signal within a facility touches a router. They are the heart of a station’s infrastructure. Therefore, when choosing a new router, flexibility is key, especially as facilities convert from analog to digital and high definition. Here’s a smattering of what’s on the digital video router market these days.


FOR-A will be introducing the “Clean Switch” series, the first in its new series of HD routing switchers, at NAB. “We will introduce [the] Clean Switch CS-HD series at NAB this year,” said Hiro Tanoue, sales manager, eastern region and South and Central America for FOR-A. “The first one will be the CS-HD1602 model with 16 inputs and two outputs. The ‘Clean Switches’ are HD routing switchers that do not create any video or audio glitch noise when switching the sources.”

This is important, Tanoue emphasizes, because the “Clean Switches” can be used as emergency back-up switchers when broadcasting.

Grass Valley Products, Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions

Grass Valley’s Trinix digital routing family is designed for broadcasters, mobile production companies, and large-scale media facilities, supporting standard and high definition signals in the same frame.

Available in 128x128, 256x256, and 512x512 frames and supporting expansion to 2048x2048 configurations, the Trinix digital video routing switchers feature a passive rear-panel design that supports front-panel access and hot-swappable components for performing maintenance and upgrades. They also feature low power consumption for power-sensitive installations and available redundant, load-sharing power supplies.


Leitch’s current offerings include the Integrator and Integrator Gold wideband digital multi-rate routers. Integrator, an economical, multi-format router that can expand from 8x8 to 512x512, can be used as a single platform or a large distributed system. Designed for on-air, core or general purpose routing, distributed routing within a facility, and centralcasting, the product is geared for mid- to large-sized routing applications.

The Panacea router features a compact form factor, an array of routing matrices (from 8x8 up to 32x32 and 256x1) and flexible control options for all signal formats. Featuring a SD/HD clean switch incorporated with an AES/EBU quiet switch, Panacea can be used for general-purpose routing of signals throughout a facility, on-air routing, centralcasting, mobile production units, and as a low-cost alternative to a master control system. Panacea handles every format from analog to HD.

“Leitch routers offer the most comprehensive coverage of signal formats and matrix sizes to meet the varying demands of the broadcast industry,” said Gwenn Tune, product manager, routing systems. “The routers allow for seamless integration into existing or new systems by utilizing a common control system while offering superior performance at a low price and outstanding customer support.”


NVISION offers two product series that address a range of digital video routing requirements. For small- to mid-sized facilities, the NV5128 Compact Multiformat Router is an 8RU system that supports I/O configurations up to 128x128. For larger installations, the NV8256-Plus Large-Format Routing System comprises a 22RU, 256x256 system that can be easily expanded to 512x512.

Both products feature an input/output block size of 16. I/O modules are available for SDI, HD-SDI, and analog composite (NTSC or PAL) video. Analog signals are converted to and from SDI with high-quality, onboard 10-bit converters. Both systems will accept any mix of input and output modules.

In addition to digital and analog video, the NV5128 Compact Router supports digital audio, analog audio, and timecode. Signal formats may be mixed and matched in groups of 16, and the system supports rectangular as well as square matrix sizes.

All system modules, including power supplies and fan assemblies, are hot-swappable. A variety of control options are available, including the NVISION NV9000 server-based control system.

“The NV8256-Plus incorporates a patented, redundant crosspoint architecture,” said Jay Kuca, NVISION director of marketing. “This NVISION exclusive feature effectively eliminates the crosspoint module as a single point of failure in the system, ensuring absolute signal path integrity.”

PESA Switching Systems

The PESA Cheetah is a full-featured digital routing switcher with the power to handle SDI and HD as well as other non-standard digital signals in the same frame. Both copper and fiber input and output modules are available for maximum flexibility. Four standard frame sizes are offered to accommodate a wide range of requirements: 64x64 in 7RU, 128x128 in 10RU, 256x256 in 18RU, and 512x512 in 41RU frame. Each of these frames allows for redundant power, redundant control, and two outputs per bus.

The Cheetah HD/multi-rate card set handles bit rates from 3Mbps up to 1.5Gbps, and re-clocks at 144, 177, 270, 360Mbps and 1.5Gbps for optimum performance. This provides an upgrade path from SDI to HD while also supporting applications using a wide range of non-standard bit rates. A lower cost SDI-only version of the Cheetah is also available. For SDI applications, a DAC monitor-grade output board can be installed as an option. The same high-performance 64x64 matrix card is common to all versions.

“The Cheetah can be configured to satisfy any digital video signal requirement,” said PESA’s director of marketing Dan Holland. “It covers all the bases with four frame sizes, support for bit rates from 3Mbps to 1.5Gbps, and an unprecedented array of connectivity options (single or dual outputs, copper or fiber, SDI or VDAC). The Cheetah is by far the best buy for anyone looking to ‘future-proof’ a facility or mobile production vehicle.”


Quartz offers a range of digital video routers in several families. The traditional Q32 and Q6400 products cover the range from 16x16 up to 64x64. For larger systems, the Q256 product is available in both 8U 128x128 and 16U 256x256 frames. These frames contain the circuitry needed for expansion, so units can be combined up to 1,024 squared, without the need for external input fan outs, or output combiners. The Q256 product is designed for mission critical applications with no single point of failure. Hot-swappable, controllers, fans, and power supplies are available in redundant configurations with system and signal monitoring and SMNP support.

According to Pete Challinger, Quartz vice president of marketing, “the best endorsement of the reliability of the Q256 is its use as the core of some of the largest centralcasting systems around the world and recent adoption by some PBS stations for multicasting.”

Quartz also offers the new Topaz range of low-cost compact SDI routers, available in 16x16 and 32x32 sizes.

All routers can be integrated into advanced Quartz control systems utilizing the widest range of panels available and with full support for most third-party routers, simplifying installation into legacy systems.

Ross Video

Ross Video’s family of Talia Routing Systems include the Kondo Routing System, Geneos v3.1 Router Configuration & Control System, Kameleon Control Panels, Kookaburra Tally Under Monitor Display System, MB-630 Monitoring Bridge and the Kangaroo 16x1, 16x2 Series.

Recent advances in the family include the Geneos control system v3.1, which features a networked-based control system with virtual PC-based control panels enabling control over a local or wide area network. Version 3.1 also provides an optional Under Monitor Display (UMD) system with GPI mapping, source follow, and rules-based configurations.

Sony Electronics

Sony’s family of digital video routing switcher products offer simultaneous SD/ HD multi-format functionality in one frame, providing users with options that not only meet their present production requirements but also enable a simple and cost-effective upgrade path.

The key products in the line-up include four multi-bit-rate router frames: the HDSX5800, a matrix configurable up to 264x272 and expandable to 1024x1024; and the HDSX3700, 3600, and 3400 matrices, which are respectively configurable up to 128x128, 64x64, and 16x16. An array of highly configurable router control panel options is available, and remote control of Sony routers via the Internet is available through the BKSRNet control software.

The Sony production switcher’s matrix exists within the routers’ virtual space, allowing seamless control over all buses from all control surfaces. Memory recalls from switchers can control multiple router buses simultaneously.

“These products allow customers to have complete realtime control of signals within their digital video production environments,” said Paul Greene, product manager for production systems products, Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Production Systems division. “Equally important, these tools can easily grow with an operation, expanding to meet and exceed a customer’s requirements.”

In addition to multi-format functionality, Sony routing products offer true realtime system control of up to 64,000 devices, with router programming able to be changed during router operations without interruption.
Tie-line management allows programmable tie-line trunks to automatically route signals through multiple levels of the routing system, while automatically establishing the routing paths between routers, including external Sony or non-Sony devices.

Using redundant CPUs, the Sony system can control large matrices up to 4093x4093, and multiple primary stations ensure redundancy and fail-safe operations. Primary stations and sub nets can be connected via Ethernet LAN as well as Sony’s proprietary S-Bus technology.

Utah Scientific

The UTAH-400 is the latest in digital routing from Utah Scientific. Features include “hot” redundant cross point cards that automatically activate, instantaneously and error free, if a failure occurs. The UTAH-400 offers signal presence detection on all router inputs and outputs, allowing monitoring of all critical signal paths feeding and leaving the router.

Other benefits within the UTAH-400 are internal analog video conversion and SDI and HD data rates all within the same frame. The various formats are added by simply installing the appropriate input and/or output card. The internal analog conversion eliminates the need for external conversion devices or tie lines between analog and SDI digital routers.

Two frames sizes are available for the UTAH-400, the 64x64 (4RU) or 144x144 (8RU), with the 144 frame being expandable to 1152x1152. The architecture of the UTAH-400 allows expansion on an 8 input or 8 output basis. This extremely small block size makes expansion very affordable and the flexibility of the router makes it simple to add whatever format is required.

Another strength of the UTAH-400 is its extremely low power consumption, with a fully loaded 144x144 frame consuming a meager 35W. Low-power usage results in lower operating temperatures, which in turn increases the reliability and life expectancy of the equipment.

“The UTAH-400 is taking the router market by storm, with deliveries of video and audio versions being made to customers in post production, newsgathering, television stations and network applications,” said Utah Scientific director of sales Ray Fowler.